Melbourne’s Hidden Retail Gems – Otto & Spike, Brunswick, 3056

Otto & Spike - Melbourne Made Knitwear - mypoppet.com.au

Brought to you by Otto & Spike

For years Brunswick was one of Melbourne’s fashion and knitwear manufacturing hubs, but over the last few decades the industry has moved off-shore and most of the factories and workshops have slowly closed. That’s why I was so excited when I discovered Otto & Spike, a family run knitwear label that has been proudly manufacturing knitwear in Melbourne for over 50 years.

Not only did I visit this very unique Hidden Retail Gem, I had the privileged of taking a behind the scenes tour of the Otto & Spike knitwear factory!

The Otto & Spike Concept Store

Recently Otto & Spike has opened a storefront to showcase their colourful range of locally made scarves, blankets, homewares, socks, beanies, and accessories, all made from premium Australian wool.

Otto & Spike, Brunswick

It’s chilly in Melbourne at the moment, so it’s the perfect time to wrap up in some cosy wool. The store is a riot of colour and I loved the variety of designs available. There’s really something here to suit everyone’s taste.

Angora poncho - otto & spike

I was pretty enamored with the Ottovasta Poncho – made from a lambswool/angora blend, it’s unbelievably soft.

Melbournians have a reputation for wearing a lot of black, so for a colour lover like myself, finding well made garments in vibrant colours and patterns can be quite a challenge. It’s refreshing to walk into a store and have such an awesome range of designs to choose from.

Otto & Spike - Melbourne Made Knitwear - mypoppet.com.au

It’s also good to know that Otto & Spike is endorsed by Ethical Clothing Australia, and is committed to safe treatment of all animals involved in the wool gathering process.

Otto & Spike - Melbourne Made Knitwear - mypoppet.com.au

Here’s how to wear an Otto & Spike infinity scarf 4 ways:

Otto & Spike - Melbourne Made Knitwear - mypoppet.com.au

Behind the Scenes at Otto & Spike

If you’ve been reading for a while you know that I’m fascinated by the making process, so the opportunity to visit the Otto & Spike knitwear factory in Brunswick was too good to pass up. Owner Anthony Mananov gave me a tour.

otto & spike knitting mills

The Mananov family have been in the knitting game for over 50 years and are passionate about preserving part of Brunswick rich textile industry history. Even though the Otto & Spike designs are contemporary, the machines that are used to create the range vary in age from 1890 to the 1990’s.  As Melbourne’s knitting mills have closed, father and son team, Les and Anthony Mananov have bought up surplus yarn and outdated machines, reconditioning them and giving them a new life. Many of them are still programmed manually, or with outdated floppy disks. They’ll end up in a museum one day (hopefully), but up till now, they are still creating beautiful products. So just like Les, no signs of retiring yet.

Otto & Spike knitwear factory brunswick

Les is semi-retired, but is still very hands on. You’ll find him in the factory most days.

My favourite machine was the glove knitting machine. I watched as it knit one finger at a time and spit out a whole lambswool glove in under a minute.

glove knitting

Behind – Glove straight out of knitting machine, Front – finished size and texture after washing and steaming.

It can be programmed to knit various styles including finger-less. The most fascinating part was the difference in the feel of the fiber from the knitting stage to the finished product. The glove is knitted quite large with a yarn that feels slightly oily and a little coarse, but once it’s steamed/washed the glove shrinks, loses it’s oily reside and feels soft and fluffy.

fingerless gloves otto and spike

Machinists then hem the cuff, add labels, and then the finished product is ready for pressing, then off to the shops.

Otto and spike - knitwear melbourne

I’ve always wanted my very own pair of finger-less gloves, and I got to see my actual pair being tagged and pressed. What a treat! I chose these in petrol colourway.

Otto & Spike Knitwear Melbourne

Jian Ling Liu (Les’ wife) personally, and cheerfully, presses my gloves on a giant steam press.

The warehouse is full of colourful yarns collected over many decades, which means they can create truly unique products in limited runs.

Otto & Spike - Melbourne Made Knitwear - mypoppet.com.au

Otto & Spike - Melbourne Made Knitwear - mypoppet.com.au

I loved chatting to the ladies on the sewing machines, who took time out of their tea break to show me how their vintage pom pom maker worked. Maria tells me she’s probably made thousands of pom poms in her time, what a star!

industrial pom pom maker

Maria shows me how to make Pom Poms on the vintage pom pom maker.

industrial pom pom maker

vintage pom pom making machine

Otto & Spike is part of the fabric of Melbourne, if you’re in the Brunswick area take a detour down Victoria street and pop in to see their fine knitted wares. If you’re not in Melbourne, they have an online shop with FREE SHIPPING Australia Wide.

Otto & Spike, Brusnwick Melbourne - mypoppet.com.au

Website: ottoandspike.com.au
Phone: 0431 144 218
Where: 324 Victoria Street,Brunswick VIC 3056
Opening Hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday 11 – 4pm
Wednesday 11 – 4pm
Thursday 11 – 4pm
Friday 11 – 6pm
Saturday 11 – 4pm
Sunday 11 – 2pm

5 Comments

  • Jennifer Marsden says:

    How wonderful Cintia to find this gem of a place. I envy your tour. But they have an online shop– I see some money keying my bank! Just have to be happy it doesn’t get cold here in W.A. Thank you for sharing, since last we corresponded with a postcard I have remarried and had a name change from Crewe to Marsden. Very fortunate for a 74year old woman and an 80 year old man to find great happiness after being widowed. Life is good and God blesses us every day. Love the colourfulness of your blog and it Kways make me feel lighter.

  • Eileen C Almeida says:

    Great video. I will be sending my daughter in Mayfield, NSW a scarf or possibly the poncho you modeled. Love, love, love your site.

  • Eva says:

    What a great story! I keen to visit to touch and try all the fabrics n display. And I never would have thought there would be a Pom Pom machine! 🙂

  • Rude Record says:

    We would love to know who services and repairs the machines and other equipment? That’s a story in itself. Great story. Thank you for sharing. RUDE Girl x

    • Cintia @ My Poppet says:

      They do their own maintenance and repairs. I chatted to one of the staff while he was cleaning some of the oil buildup off the machine needles/hooks. Its an never ending job that they fit in between knitting runs.

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